Posted by: Editor | April 11, 2011

These are the People in Your Neighbourhood: Lorraine Nygaard

These are the People in Your Neighbourhood: Lorraine Nygaard

By Tim Morrison 

EsquimaltReview.com continues a featured series entitled “These are the People in Your Neighbourhood“. In this edition, the Esquimalt Review profiles local resident Lorraine Nygaard and her successful bed & breakfast. If you would like to contribute a community profile about an individual, group, organization, or business in Esquimalt, please send your ideas to Tim Morrison at editor@esquimaltreview.com

Lorraine Nygaard: Welcoming the World to Esquimalt

Esquimalts Lorraine Nygaard

Lorraine Nygaard spent her childhood here in Esquimalt, went away, studied and worked in Vancouver, travelled (including a 13 year extended stint in Japan), and eventually returned home to Esquimalt where she started a business that would enable her to share our wonderful community of Esquimalt with the entire world. Since 1997, Lorraine has been the owner and operator of the Cottage Pirouette Bed & Breakfast at 401 Lampson Street. She welcomes guests from far and wide.

“I’ll get a call in February, and it’s Avi from Israel, or Hans from Belgium, and they want to book a room in August,” says Lorraine of her guests. “It never ceases to amaze me how people find us.”

“Generally speaking, and this is a very strange term, I have come to attract ‘real’ people,” adds Lorraine.  “These are folks that are not looking for a plastic resort style experience.  They are people who are looking for adventure, and find fabulous things to do and enjoy on our island.  They are as happy reading a book in the backyard as they are going zip-lining in Sooke Hills.  Sometimes, they are here for a special concert in town, and sometimes they are here for a family reunion.   At some point, I probably hear what they do for a living or a hobby, and I am always honoured to recognize the kinds of folks that have graced our halls: everyone from neurosurgeons and rocket scientists to maple syrup farmers and ministers.”

Lorraine is a keen host for those that come to Esquimalt. She knows our community well through some very deep roots that began as a young child living decades ago on Lampson Street at a time when it was far more rural than urban.

“Back then, there were four neighbouring properties that each had an acre of land with the turn-of-the-century homes, and it was a great place to grow up,” says Lorraine fondly.

She attended Lampson Elementary School, Highrock Middle School (now Victor Brodeur) and on to Esquimalt High, where she learned about community service as an active member of the Student Council. She was an avid figure skater with the Esquimalt skating club and first learned the hospitality trade as a concession stand worker at the local arena.  

As an adult, Lorraine eventually moved abroad to Japan, but the shores of Esquimalt were beckoning her return. After running a very successful café business in Tokyo, Lorraine and her husband Hiroaki, along with five children, headed back to Canada in search of the perfect spot for a Bed & Breakfast.

Cottage Pirouette Bed & Breakfast

“We decided to move back to the Victoria area in 1996, and after looking at many areas of various municipalities, were finally attracted to the spot at 401 Lampson.   My husband, now my ex, and I worked well together, and the B & B seemed like a natural business setting for us.   I could be an ‘at-home’ mom, and still run a business.  Hiroaki was able to take our Japanese clients out golfing at the Gorge Vale Club and beyond.”

Her children are now grown, but continue to help with the constantly evolving business. Lorraine maintains her home in perfect shape, adds personal touches, and makes renovations to enhance the guest experience. Mostly, however, she lets Esquimalt’s quaint setting do most of the work.

“Everyone loves Esquimalt, of course.  They are so happy to have found a spot that is just outside the city center, and is so peaceful and natural.  They love the walk to Fleming Beach or to Saxe Point Park, and they love the Westbay walkway to town.  They are amazed at what a beautiful place we live in.  The other thing they comment on is how friendly they find the people of this community.  They may be lost somewhere blocks and blocks away, but someone kindly points them in the right direction.  Some have been here for research purposes, and find our archives phenomenal,” extols Lorraine.  

“The world is discovering the ‘hidden gem’ that is Esquimalt,” adds Lorraine. “To the visitor’s eyes, this place is so special.  There have been many smart enhancements, such as the Esquimalt Rail Trail.  Having people from the northwest using the cycling trail to get to town will not only enrich Esquimalt, it will relieve the traffic woes in the bigger region, something that’s important to all of us.  The community garden plots build respect and pride in the neighbourhood, not to mention great vegetables.  Many of the good things happening are clearly environment and fitness focussed.”

“Our strength is in the natural, laid-back lifestyle, in a quaint village atmosphere.  The beauty of our boulevards, parks, and surrounding waterscapes are very special.  And until you’ve heard it from outsiders, locals don’t know that compared to the rest of the world, we live a very fit lifestyle.  Visitors often comment on the great numbers of joggers, cyclists, kayakers, and dog-walkers. I also see intelligent families and young couples that want a special lifestyle congregating here, and thus, cultural components will increase.”

Cottage Pirouette Bed & Breakfast

On that front, Lorraine is hoping to get started soon on another business venture that could include a new restaurant and/or lounge for Esquimalt. “I am currently trying to put a long-time dream into motion:  combining my love of singing with hostessing. The time is right for some rich cultural enhancements,that will benefit both Esquimalt residents and those of the Greater Victoria region.”  

When Lorraine is not taking care of business, she is busy in the community increasing awareness as an environmentalist, teaching fitness at the Esquimalt Rec Centre, and active with the Esquimalt United Church, Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce, Best Bed and Breakfasts of Victoria association, organizing the Esquimalt Bed and Breakfasts professional group, kayaking, long-distance cycling , and maintaining ties with the Japanese Cultural Societies.

When you are out for a stroll in Esquimalt, pop in to Cottage Pirouette Bed & Breakfast at 401 Lampson, say hello to Lorraine, and book a room for your out-of-town guests. In addition to being a gracious host, Lorraine is a great story-teller with many interesting anecdotes about some of her more memorable guests.

“One day, I will write a book,” concludes Lorraine. “There has been so much that has been fabulous, and a few things that have been horrendous.  The interactions at the breakfast table are my favourite part.  Once I’ve served breakfast, I fade into the background so that the guests can get to know each other:  it is totally heart-warming to hear the laughter and conversation that begins within just minutes of everyone being seated.”    

As with the success of Lorraine Nygaard’s bed & breakfast, Esquimalt will continue to grow and prosper because of the people that make our community the special place that it is.

“I’ve really enjoyed the B & B work, welcoming the world to Esquimalt, and will continue to adapt to make the area and our establishment welcoming and warm,” reflects Lorraine.

Read more about Lorraine’s Esquimalt Bed & Breakfast at: http://www.cottagepirouette.com

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